The Natural House (2000) by Daniel D. Chiras is a great resource for learning about different types of alternative building systems. From log and stone to straw bale and rammed earth, this comprehensive guide shows the many different ways to achieve an environmentally sustainable structure. It is very hands-on and descriptive, going into detail about specific building techniques and strategies that one can use to minimize a building’s ecological impact. It is a good take-off point from which one can decide which building system to use and research further. The book also has a very good resource list of books, videos, and green building professionals.
Cradle to Cradle (2002) by William McDonough and Michael Braungart is a much different kind of book than Chiras’ manual. The two authors outline an ideological strategy that advocates a closed waste cycle in human industry. Their new concepts have revolutionized the design strategies of such companies as Nike, Hermann Miller, and the Ford Motor Company. Their concentration on innovative design has not only helped these companies become more environmentally friendly, but it has also saved them money. Their focus on the ‘triple bottom line’ of economics, equity, and ecology has helped them develop a well-rounded perspective that balances the issues that surround green design and construction . This book shows what one innovation and design can accomplish for green building .
Finally, the book Taking Shape: A New Contract between Architecture and Nature (U.K.: Thames & Hudson Ltd. 2000) refines the idea of sustainable architecture. Written by Susannah Hagan, it highlights the relationship between environmental architecture and its involvement in modern concepts of nature and architecture. It also deals with ethics, consumerism, environmental design, materials, and symbiosis.